Lauren McLean Iuppa Ayer

Poet | Artist | Optimist

Tag: story

Two Stories

Today we are wrapping up week 4 of #Quest2016, Do Your Best Work, Not Someone Else’s.

Two Stories

Visionary: Jen Louden

What’s the story you most desire to bring to life in 2016?   

What’s the story your just-right client most desires to bring to life in 2016? 

Where do your two stories overlap? #2Stories

The story that I most desire to bring to life in 2016 is this:

I am powerful.

I have the power to make a difference–
in my life and in this world.

I am an agent of change.

I can change the trajectory of my story–
our story–through small daily actions,
repeated consistently over time.

I am a beacon of light and hope.

Through my work, my actions, my life–
I can remind others that a better world is possible
–possibly only a breath away.

I am stronger with others beside me.

Whatever I believe I can do on my own,
it can increase exponentially when collaborating
with others who share my passion.

Art matters.

I can speak my truth more loudly,
more clearly, with art and story
than with a picket sign, a megaphone, or by strapping my blast-ready body to a coal plant.

Silence is no longer an option.

The time has come to take a stand
for my own life, for the lives of those I love
for this Earth that feeds us, holds us, supports us.

 And the story my just-right client desires to bring  to life in 2016?

That they, too have the power…

  • To create change
  • To maintain hope, to shed light in the midst of great darkness
  • To stand up and speak or draw or write or strum or drum their truth in whichever way or language they have available
  • To work together for a better, more loving, more green and beautiful world

That we all do.

We share the same story, the same fears, the same hopes, and the same power–to own our strengths and weaknesses, to transform ourselves in service of transforming the world.

Daydream Believer

I’ll be honest, in some ways I feel like a lot of these Quest prompts are simply reframing the same question using slightly different words (and sometimes using the same words). And yet, I find myself having to acknowledge that sometimes the subtlest shift is all that’s needed to break the whole thing open.

Take yesterday’s prompt for example. When I first read it, all I saw was “business as unusual”–the same words that tripped me up two prompts ago. But this time, after letting the sentence steep for a day, I pushed those somehow halting words aside and focused on the part of the question I could find a way into.

Daydream

Visionary: Scott Barry Kaufman

Your Quest2016 Prompt today:

What recurring daydream for 2016 inspires you to do business as unusual like never before?

Recurring daydreams… yes, that’s entryway. As I try not to trip over “for 2016” which may make this room too shallow to hold them. These dreams will require a space at least as big as Carlsbad Caverns’ Big Room…

Cave Goddess

The Goddess of the cave agrees.

————————————————————————–

It begins with a longing for twining vines, with broad heart-shaped leaves. Perhaps I have been too long in the desert, because this lush tangle of opulent  fecundity greets me every time I close my eyes against the dust colored walls, the blinding cerulean sky, the hot white sun than still burns even as  its angle to this part of the world diminishes.

In the verdant world behind closed lids, my felt wall holds a fabric wasteland with words stitched over its every pale color of absence. Yet in the foreground the colors start to change. The earth takes on a richer shade. Soon green begins to appear at the margins. Each day new growing things begin to sprout and curl, inching in, slowly at first, then with increasing urgency and abandon–reclaiming that barren place as their own.

On a table across the narrow alcove, tree-plundered pages describe a young prince wandering through a medieval forest thick with underbrush. He catches the sharp scent of wood smoke and moves toward it. Not far in the distance a grail-shaped girl, sensing his approach, backs away from her fire trying her best to disappear into the trees hoping to avoid his wanting gaze. Still, despite her efforts, in a few moments he will materialize from the shadow of the twilight woods and find her.

And somewhere in the distance, perhaps beyond the passing of this coming year, there is a cottage just far enough from the bustling world to remain unseen from the nearby roads. It is the garden that hides it. The garden dripping with dark falls of newly ripe currants, with its carpet of wintergreen and thyme, with its climbing, obscuring vines–honeysuckle and boysenberry, hops and scarlet runner beans. It keeps itself hidden, waiting for a woman with butterscotch hair to find the key that fits its single lock. For her to open the door and sleep within its polished walls. To take its green into her bones, finally finding the magic that heals her. That heals them both.

————————————————————————–

I have already begun culling my possessions and preparing for a journey. Carefully calculating what I can carry. Scouring the dusty shelves of dim shops for treasure maps and magic beans and a compass aligned with a subtler force than magnetic north. A force that knows, while home may already be inside me, there is a place where that seed will blossom more radiantly, more powerfully than in this parched place  where I currently live (both without and within)–and it may be closer than I imagine. #daydream

  • The quilt/s
  • The story
  • The journey (with journal and camera at the ready)
  • The garden and its reclaiming

 

Read more from some of my fellow Questers:

And there are so many more inspiring answers that have only been shared in the private Quest Facebook group. It’s not too late to Join the Quest.

Celebrate Each Tiny Step

#DareToExcel Challenge – 8:

Take time during the next two days to look back on the past two weeks and acknowledge any positive changes you have noticed during the past two weeks in terms of how you feel, how you are paying attention more to what matters (challenges and all), any new relationships you’re striking up.

Write down and share what you are celebrating. When you celebrate in public, others get to celebrate with you. Your celebrations are not self-centered. They are uplifting to your peers and to your audiences and customers. So what are you waiting for? Howl out and lift us up!

Halfway through July’s #DareToExcel and it’s time to celebrate our accomplishments. Why is that always so much harder than it sounds? Probably because what’s left to do seems so much bigger than what’s already done. But it’s precisely that illusion that makes this challenge so important.

So what positive changes have I made so far?

  • I accepted the challenge in an effort to pull me out of the morass I’d been stuck in since the end of March
  • I wrote down my two most burning questions: “what if I focus on making instead of mulling?”, and “what if the story is wrong?” (which really leads to the more important question: “what if we changed the story?”)
  • I committed to one small project (Hands in Motion, Mind at Rest) to help clear mental, emotional, and physical space for my one big project, the book referred to as 3T
  • I have been practicing Hands in Motion, Mind at Rest, if not every day, at least most, and am now just 3 long seams away from finishing a quilt started more than three years ago, making me feel lighter, more focused, and like I’m actually getting stuff done; I can’t wait to finish it and move on to the next
  • I identified three young genius traits that I want to reintegrate into my life and work: Vibrancy, Resilience, and Freedom
  • I identified my audience for the book–something I’ve always been reluctant to do–and in doing so gave myself a renewed sense of purpose
  • I identified a skill that I need to cultivate in order to improve my chances of completing my small and large projects, and while I called it “saying no” it’s actually about discernment, which also includes attention to what I need to say yes to, in some cases making tradeoffs–saying yes to one thing in order to release something else
  • I identified my cross-training and versatile heritage skills–sewing, mindfulness, writing, research, and content architecture, but realize now that there are others that are less obvious and in some ways more powerful: creating a backyard homestead garden, learning belly dance and performing on stage, writing several NaNoWriMo novels, and learning how to fly a plane, all of which taught me about focus, dedication, dealing with uncertainty and obstacles, and facing some of my most long-held and agonizing fears
  • I took a look at my relationship with time and realized much of the drowning churn was of my own making
  • I continued to take my #365 daily photos, getting myself out of the house and into the world, all the while staying focused on the concrete world around me, and the beauty there, even in things that don’t at first seem beautiful
  • And perhaps most importantly, I have begun talking about collaborations and getting more involved with other people’s projects–sharing my immune disorder story with Tracee Vetting Wolf for her project, discussing a possible short story collection with Brenna Layne, and attending Jeffrey Davis‘ Tracking Wonder event in Albuquerque where I met some great people and got some great advice about my book from the man himself

Seeing the list written down like this makes me realize how much I’ve accomplished in only two short weeks. Yes I still have a long way to go, but if I can maintain this level of progress for the second two weeks of the challenge and beyond, there’s no telling what I can accomplish.

Dare to Excel

Six weeks since my last post and in many ways I am still struggling to pick up the threads of my Quest that suddenly unravelled at the end of March. Sure, I have had moments of clarity, epiphany, and even a few bursts of creative energy, but on the whole I have continued to slog through my days for, now, more than three months. That’s more than long enough.

Enter #DareToExcel, the latest brainchild of wonder-tracker Jeffrey Davis, the man who brought us #Quest2015. His timing could not be more perfect. And so here we are at the start of a new month-long challenge and the point of transition from the first to the second half of the year–both beginning in the month I, myself, began–49 years ago next week.

Forty-nine years… I have to admit, that’s hard to wrap my mind around. I don’t feel 49, and I sure don’t feel almost 50. I barely feel older than 29. It’s funny how life sneaks up on us.

Back when I did turn 29, I totally freaked out. For some reason it’s the year before the big birthdays that get me, as though I suddenly realize that I only have one year left to accomplish everything I wanted to do before reaching whatever looming age is approaching. And usually I do check off the top thing(s) on my list. At 29 I completely changed careers and learned to belly dance.  At 39, I bought my first house. And now, with 49 one week away, I find my mind turning toward the big dreams I’ve longed to accomplish before I turn 50, which in turn leads me back to the power of questions.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 1:

What burning question of possibility will influence what and how you create during the next 30 to 90 days?

Choose and write down or illustrate the burning question of possibility you commit to. Don’t be afraid of illustrating it with a little personal flourish. The best innovators and design thinkers make their work “their own.” So own this question.

Write it on a card. Print it out on a poster of your own making. Make it attractive to your creative mind of action so that every day this month you will Rise to Excel and live this question.

Of course I never seem to be able to answer with just one question, and this prompt is no exception. Two questions bolted into my head in rapid succession–one focused on the big picture, and another on a specific project.

What if I (we) stop planning, analyzing, over-thinking, worrying, and controlling (or at least trying to control) and instead just focus on making?

This is a theme that has come up for me repeatedly throughout both Quest 2015 and my life. I am a thinker, a dreamer, a planner, sometimes even an obsessor, often to the detriment of actually getting things done. For the next 30 to 90 days, I plan to switch that up. To start with the making, and save the thinking for once I have actual work to think about. Consider it a NaNoWriMo approach to the rest of my creative life–maybe even my entire life. Starting today, I will spend my limited time and energy on word counts and stitch counts and completed action counts. At the end of the challenge, I’ll tally everything I did and decide whether I have enough to start building with or I need to keep my head down and my hands busy a little (or a lot) longer.

Which brings us to the second question:

What if the story is wrong?

A couple of weeks ago I posted the following to the Quest group during our weekly howl-out:

About an hour ago while I was washing dishes, a book idea came to me. I think this might just be the one.

The book (code named 3T) centers around a medieval tale, one that I have been deeply drawn to since the first time I encountered it and whose main character has shown up stories I’ve written, and who I have met the embodiment of, over and over again in my life. In some ways, that story has helped define who I am and how I relate to other people and to the world.

But what if that story is wrong? Because I am beginning to believe that it is. And the transformation of that wrong story into the right story will be the work of the book.

So here here they are, the first a dare, and the second, the existential question that has already started to break everything open. The how, and the what.

And just in case you were wondering, yes, it even includes the apocalypse.

Intrigued by #DareTo Excel? Read what some of my fellow#DareToExcel participants came up with then take the pledge

 

New Story

So here it is, our last prompt of our #livethequest journey, and it’s a doozy.

#LiveTheQuest question 12:
What is the #NewStory you are living and creating into in 2015?
Stand up and own your new Story. It’s unfolding. There’s a lot of uncertainty in owning a new Story. But what is the one you are standing up for and sharing? Yes, part of the Story is deeply personal. How are you being called to think, feel, imagine, create, and act in different ways this year?  How are you engaging and relating if not elevating people differently this year? And what is the greater-than-you Story? Maybe there’s a word or phrase that helps you start to shape and define what that Story is that you are only a part of but starting to shape and lead.

Don’t shy away from that Story’s magnitude and magnificence. When you lead, you cannot hide behind anyone else. Rise and go toward it. As far as I know, this is it, baby–this one brief creative life. Let’s make the most of it. Together.

Last November when I signed up for this Quest, I had no idea what my story might be. Or maybe I had a few, but this one, the one that claimed me, it surprised me.

I still find it hard to believe that the crazy idea that first started to germinate 10 years ago  (quite possibly closer to 15), one that I dismissed time and time again as too frivolous, too morbid, as just another distraction, has revealed itself to be what I have been searching for all along. It’s amazing what can happen when we trade avoiding, second-guessing, rejecting for embracing, cultivating, nurturing. When we stop analyzing and striving, and start experimenting and creating. Which is story enough in itself, especially for those of us just starting out, or who have found themselves armpit-deep in a bog, or who have spent so long sitting in a box following other people’s rules that it has become second nature not to question, so strong, in fact that the idea of escape fills you with fear.

I was once starting out. I have found myself stuck in bogs. I have even from time to time believed I loved those boxes that held me. And I’m pretty sure I will find myself in at least one of those places again. Probably all of them, over and over again. Because that’s how life is. But for this moment, in this place I am standing up for cultivating resilience in our lives and the world. For looking into the scary places and saying “don’t be afraid, because even here there is light.” Or, “Don’t worry,  we all get scared sometimes. Let’s take each other’s hands and face it together.” For believing that story and art–our own, what’s come before, and what’s yet to be created–can change everything for the better. For staring the apocalypse in the eyes and saying “now is not your time. This time, it’s ours, and it is full of wonder.”

This may be the end of this leg of our travels, but the journey itself? It’s only beginning.